ABB , the leading power and automation technology group has announced that ABB flowmeters have reduced annual steam losses in the generation plant of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia from 16 percent to 5 percent and enabled the plant to recover more than $1,275,000 a year in lost revenues.
The steam plant for the huge downtown campus generates steam for almost 60 buildings including three hospitals, the governor’s mansion and a museum. Three identical boilers produce around 180,000 tons of steam a year.
During the 2006-07 fiscal season the plant generated almost 19,000 tons of steam but billed the various departments and building occupants for a little under 16,000 tons, a discrepancy of 16 percent.
Steam usage in each building was monitored by ageing steam and condensate meters, which were no longer suitable for the task. After assessing the various alternative meters on the market, a leading flow control specialist recommended the installation of ABB’s new swirl flowmeters.
Most of the university buildings are old and lack the long steam runs required by many kinds of flowmeters. ABB swirl flowmeters, on the other hand require uniquely short straight sections of pipe before and after the metering location.
According to ABB Australia’s Measurement Products Manager, Trevor Maddison, the swirl flowmeters are part of ABB’s comprehensive range of flow meters for liquids, gases and steam. Advantages of these flowmeters include high accuracy, built-in temperature sensors and automatic computing of readings to indicate steam usage.
Additionally, the readings can either be taken manually or transmitted in real-time to the site or building automation system.
To date about 40 of the campus buildings have been equipped with ABB swirl flowmeters. With around 20 or so buildings yet to be fitted, the steam plant is expected to earn well in excess of the $1.25 million in annual revenues recovered so far.